At 6.45am on the 8th June 2013, five cubs and two leaders from 1st South Bersted Air Scout Group met at Bognor train station ready for a fun-filled scouting adventure. We were off to London to take part in the Shelterbox Scavenger Hunt!
As we travelled towards Baden-Powell House, Kensington, it was fun to notice more and more scout neckers being worn by the Cubs, Scouts and Explorers who made up the other teams.
With the calm, organised manner that we have come to expect from national scouting events, we were greeted, registered, given our team pack, shown where to find the toilets…and then sent to meet Matt, who allocated us with our iconic green box for the day! Scouts and Explorers had a full sized Shelterbox box to take with them, but we were quite pleased to be given a slightly scaled-down cub version. We watched as seasoned Explorer teams attached skateboards to their Shelterbox – taking mental notes for future reference!
Our pack contained a map of the area and four sheets of questions with an answer sheet. Each question had a grid reference that related to the map, so we were off; testing our map reading, observation, speed, ability and general knowledge! The questions led us to some of the most famous London tourist sights: The Albert Memorial, The Science Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Royal Albert Hall to name a few. We also visited some more less-known places, such as the house where Baden-Powell had lived. We were also presented with two tricky team tasks, which tested our ability to work together to solve a problem. Both tasks were great fun.
We had the most amazingly sunny day for our visit to London, and although we walked our socks off, we were buzzing with excitement and the team didn’t stop chatting and laughing for the full twelve hours! As their Akela, I was super proud of the way that they organised themselves into taking turns to carry the box, read out the questions, work out map co-ordinates and write down the answers. They were a fantastic example of a team working together.
We also really enjoyed the opportunity of telling people why we were carrying around a green box! The main reason for holding the event was to promote the Shelterbox Charity. Shelterbox provides emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters, at the time when they need it the most. They deliver the essentials a family needs to survive in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
At our last base, we were able to see the full contents of a Shelterbox, and we went inside the tent and tried out some of the equipment. We were familiar with lots of it, because of our Pack camping experiences, but we were made to think about having to be in that situation not for fun for a weekend camp – but for necessity, because people in many parts of the world lose everything they own.
Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, groundsheets, water storage and filtration equipment, cooking utensils, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items. Visit their website www.shelterbox.org for more information.
We really did enjoy our Scavenger Hunt. As well as learning lots about Shelterbox, and exploring London, what made the day so special was the opportunity to appreciate how big, how diverse and how friendly the family of scouting is! We had so much fun “high-five-ing” the other teams as we passed in the streets! Everyone was encouraging and helpful and without exception, everyone had a huge smile on their face! It was so wonderful to remember that we have all made the same promise and we all belong to the same Worldwide family. I don’t think our team will forget that experience in a long-while, I know for sure that I won’t.
Our train arrived back in Bognor at 6.46pm. Twelve hours and a minute of pure adventure! Thank you Shelterbox and thank you Scouting!
New life has been created in an area of South Bersted churchyard by hard-working Scouts. The 12 Scouts and four leaders transformed an area of land at St Mary Magdalene Church. the members of 11th Bognor Regis Scouts and South Bersted Air Scouts spent four hours completely clearing 60 metres of its border next to the wall with the hospital. The site will become a plant bed ready for wild plants and flowers.
Chris Summerfield, the Scouts’ assistant district commissioner, was amount those whose enthusiasm tackled the arduous task. “The Scouts were a real credit not only to themselves but the whole movement,” he said. “They acted with a great maturity far beyond their years and engaged the visitors we had throughout the task. It will be great to see the bank transform into a natural wildflower border creating a stunning addition to the other well kept areas of the church’s grounds.”
Ann Hammond, the verger of the Bersted Street church, was astonished by the amount the Scouts cleared. Much of the land was compacted mud with a mass of I’ve, stone and other debris. The project was organised with Sheila Green, of Bognor Regis Town Council. It will form part of the town’s In Bloom display and Scouts’ community week.
On the 7th June, during Scout Community Week, 1st South Bersted Air Scout Group celebrated the official opening of “Bugingham Palace” at West Park by Nick Gibb MP and Paul Wells, the mayor of Bognor.
Bugingham Palace – a hotel designed for bugs, was made by the cubs back in January of this year as part of our Green Footprints challenge. Under the expert eye of Paul Hughes (Steven’s Dad) and with the help of Rob, Chris, Adie and Dorris (Craig, Libby, George and Pippa’s Dads) over two pack nights, the cubs learnt some carpentry skills whilst constructing Bugingham Palace. During the evenings each six also made a bird box.
We had been working closely with the Friends of West Park for our Green Footprint Celebration (February 23rd) and were told that they would find an area within West Park where we could give Bugingham Palace a home.
The area that was suggested is beautiful, and the cubs spent 4 nights in May at West Park discovering the different types of trees within the fenced off area, as well as carrying out a mini-beast search with Val Morris from the RSPB to discover what bugs may take up residence in the Palace. We planted seeds of wild flowers that were donated to us by Kim Davis from the Town Council (a friendship that was again established through our Green Footprint event) During the busy evenings, Dorris coppiced 3 hazel trees and the cubs heroically transported huge branches across the field and into the Wild Life area where on the 10th May, the Scouts (joined by ADC Scouts, Rama) constructed a hedge area.
The beavers made some fabulous bird feeders that have been hung in the area, making the project a real group effort! B&Q – official sponsors of Scout Community Week have been brilliant in offering both practical advice and also providing gardening gloves to protect the cubs hands whilst they work.
At the opening, Nick Gibb said how pleased he was to see everyone engaging with nature and spending time enjoying and learning more about the insects and wild life that are all around us.
Dee Christensen from Arun District Council is really pleased with the work that we have done to start to establish a wild life area in West Park and, with the continued help and enthusiasm from Jan Malpass (the Secretary of Friends of West Park) and with the offer of on-going support from B&Q, we look forward to developing the area further as a District Project.
The area in West Park is fenced off and its gate is padlocked as there is a ditch with very steep banks running along the back. The Cubs were closely supervised during our times of working in this area. The area is not open to the public and anyone wishing to gain access to this area (including Bugingham Palace) must contact the key-holders - either Jan Malpass from Friends of West Park or Dave Morris from Bognor District Scouts.
With glorious summer weather the team had a short safety briefing and shown the basics of how to paddle a 40' long dragon boat. With much enthusiasm the team took to the water and won all three of the heats against another scout group. The final race was very close with 2nd Bognor missing out by only half a dragon's head! Great fun was had by all with training to start soon to ensure a complete victory for next year!